It’s November so how could I do a blog on anything other than the National Bird of America—the Turkey!! Well, it’s not really the National Bird (the National Bird is the Bald Eagle) but Ben Franklin lobbied hard to make the turkey the National Bird. He was against the Bald Eagle stating “it is a bird of bad moral character” whereas, the turkey was a much more respectable bird—a bird of courage. Alas, it did not pass. But at least now we can enjoy eating turkey and not feel bad about eating the National Bird!!
Oh, how we enjoy turkey here in America. In 2015 more than 736 million pounds were consumed. And most of those at Thanksgiving. In a recent survey—88 percent of Americans eat turkey at Thanksgiving. That’s why naps are so popular after our big Thanksgiving feasts. Actually, that’s a misconception. While turkey often gets the blame for the naps, studies suggest that it’s the carbohydrate rich meals that increases the tryptophans in the brain. So it’s really the stuffing—potatoes—rolls and pies that cause the drowsiness. So, just eat the turkey and the veggies and you’ll be wide awake—yeah right! Not going to happen.
Since 1947, the President of the United States has been presented with a live turkey in celebration of Thanksgiving. The first official presidential turkey pardon wasn’t given until George H.W. Bush’s in 1989. I understand that President Obama is not giving his turkey a pardon this year. He is saving his pardon for Hillary!! Oops—I promised I would not interject politics into my blogs—but I couldn’t pass that up.
The turkey is named after the Nation of Turkey. Early European visitors to the Americas saw the creature and it reminded them of a bird they saw in Turkey. There are still a large number of wild turkeys here in America. But they don’t resemble much the turkeys that are raised here for our consumption. Wild turkeys can fly (55 mph full tilt)—they can run at 20mph—–they sleep in trees—they mate naturally—and they have dark feathers. Domesticated turkeys (the broad breasted white) is so heavy and large breasted that it can’t fly, run, or mate naturally. They must be artificially inseminated. What a bummer for them. Also domesticated turkeys have been bred to have white feathers. BTW—the average turkey has 3,500 feathers.
Now, here is something you all should remember—a turkeys gender can be determined from its droppings—-a males will be shaped like the letter J——a females will be more spiral shaped! Well—there you go poop aficionados!! And because it’s an election year I must mention—–the wild turkeys bald head can change color in seconds with excitement and emotion—–to RED WHITE and BLUE!!
OK—a few more fun facts before I close:
- A male turkey is a Tom and a female is a Hen.
- A Hen Turkey (up to about 18#) is considered the most tender of the birds.
- A baby turkey is called a Poult.
- Only Toms “gobble”—hens make a clicking noise.
- Turkey gobbles can be heard over a mile away.
- The world’s largest recorded turkey was 86 pounds.
- Turkeys have excellent vision. They see three times better than 20-20 and they see in color. (maybe that’s why turkey is listed among the top ten foods for your eyes because it’s rich in in zinc. True fact.)
Last but not least, lots of people claim the turkey is a dumb bird— but a final quote comes from my friend Willie in Sonoma County who grows my free range turkeys and is a turkey expert: “Turkeys actually do know to come out of the rain and that puts them ahead of most humans”
George Saffarrans, CEO